Goodbye My Old Friend: An Open Letter to Shonda Rhimes and Grey’s Anatomy

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People who know me well know that I probably take the TV shows I invest time in a little too seriously, and a little too personally. I started watching Grey’s Anatomy the day before my 14th birthday. I was a freshman in a high school that I didn’t feel particularly loved or comfortable in (does anyone in high school feel particularly loved and comfortable???). Anyway the show began right around the time when my closest group of friends began to circle each other like a great bar against all senses of evil and darkness that would come our way. I called my best friend my person, my Die, just like Meredith did with her best friends. The show was a weekly beacon for us to watch and connect and imagine our lives would shape into (my best friend eventually going to med school to be a surgeon the likes of the character I’d always called her by). Sure, it was a primetime soap that often saw bombs and car accidents and lots of different forms of sadness along the way, but the relationships between the characters always felt like this tangible proof of long term friendships and hope—hope for human understanding, hope for happiness, and (maybe) most importantly hope for love.

The years have seen characters come and go, but Meredith and her love were always a rock for the show to come back to, and for its audience to feel trust in. It seemed that’s where the show started—in a living room on the floor—and that’s where it would end.

.

On this week’s episode, Meredith and Derek’s story came to a close when his car was hit by a truck in an awful car accident. The ending felt weak and cheap and rushed. It felt like there were forces happening behind the scenes that made the ending so abrupt.

I know it’s a TV show and I really shouldn’t care. These aren’t real people and with all the live, actual bad things happening in the world, it’s tough to feel empathy or mercy towards someone who has time to feel sad about the end of a character on a show that’s been on way longer than it needed to be. But I’m still going to say this anyway: Derek’s death meant a lot to me. Yes, he was a character on a show, but he was also more than that. Over a decade’s worth of watching him, he became a symbol for good at the end of the day, for hope for those that are less than optimistic.

It’s the end of an era, a decade of something unreal (in a very literal sense) and yet still very present in my life. This will be my last season watching Grey’s Anatomy. I have loved every break up and make up, and fake surgeries that could never happen. I’ve loved even the plane crashes and the unnecessary deaths. As Shonda Rhimes is queen of doing, she’s impacted my life with her fiction in a way few writers ever do. And I’ll forever be grateful.

Goodbye, my old friend. I will miss you so much.

ELLEN POMPEO, PATRICK DEMPSEY

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